February 2022 Newsletter

What are a Specifier's Needs?

**** The 4specs Perspective

Last month's newsletter was Does Your Website Meet the Specifier's Needs? I received several emails from specifiers with their thoughts that were valuable addition to the 4specs newsletter.

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I have spent the entire day so far dealing with BPM’s {building product manufacturers} who are completely unfamiliar with how the design/bid/build process works. And as soon as I educate them, they move on and someone else just as uninformed takes their place.
Craig K. Haney, FCSI  ZeroDocs - craig@zerodocs.com - 972-824-6581

[I suggest they get Phil Kabza's CDT One Day at a Time emails as a starting spot and the 4specs newsletter series on Getting Specified - Colin]

Even worse are the websites that try to cram everything for consumers and design professionals onto the same website. If I am specifying paint I do not need to know about the company;s rollers and paint brushes.

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Specifiers have their collection of sections from years of developing them for a variety of projects. But every project has a new product or is a new type of building use. One of these for me was a new police building a few years ago. It has a shooting range, a large number of special storage units, special doors, and even an outside unit to wash their police dogs. This is just an example of trying to find a manufacturer that will provide a guide spec. If they do have a "CSI" or "3-part" guide spec, they make you search every link looking for the right page before you give up.

Worse yet, they generally don't follow the CSI standards. Those who understand what you need are those who hire a CCS or equivalent professional specifier. If they were smart, they would list the location of the guide spec by using the search box. I don't mind the formatting much since I have macros to do most of the work, but they should use a copy of CSI's SectionFormat to locate in the proper Part and use the recommended terminology.

These problems don't happen often on a project when the project manager requests a guide spec from a manufacturer's representative who is hoping to make a sale. I have also had product representatives offer to review my specification section to bring it up to date as well and incorporate how their product should be specified.

Finally, there are those product representatives who send updated catalogs. These are a few of the ways this has worked for me since my office is 2700 miles from my main client.

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As a registered architect and specifier who has prepared hundreds of Project Manuals since 1980, I appreciate your effort. Product websites well-suited to Specifiers are rare. Those that work quickly become a "Go To" Manufacturer.

In my experience, although the problem is industry-wide, the worst offenders include interior finish materials, lacking even the most rudimentary information such as material identification and intended application. An immature designer may only be concerned with "colorways", but I won't buy a pig-in-a-poke.

Your recommendation for a separate area for architects/specifiers is on target and that link should be prominent on the home page.

Last comment for the moment: Ideally, Manufacturers should reserve the term "specification" for a full, CSI 3-Part Format guide spec.....or at least all data essential to creating a specification.

An annoyance I failed to mention are websites that require setting up an account and/or providing contact and project info to gain meaningful access. I refuse to do this and move on to the next mfr, even if it means abandoning my initial preferred product source. It's not a matter of secrecy, but of time. Whereas a seasoned specifier can anticipate much of his/her firm's project needs when Drawings are yet being developed, by their nature specs remain a "reaction" to the Drawings. Therefore, when the rate of Drawing completion suddenly accelerates in the eleventh-hour, a specifier cannot keep up if detoured by manufacturers' online accounts, entering contact/project info, and fielding the flurry of well-intentioned, but ill-timed calls from reps trying to secure a sale. There'll be time for that later.

Yes, your insights make perfect sense; I love web-sites that state "Professionals" or "Architects" as an example. I am not interested what Joe and Mary would want to see until I select the product I want to design with, and then I may use the Joe & Mary pictures and BS companies put out there.

Good search feature on web sites is essential, like you, I want all the info in one place and I want to filter for what I need as much as possible.

I was just buying some supplements from 2 sites and like you, had similar experience where one allowed me to filter down to a smaller set that I picked from, the other wouldn’t – they didn’t get the business.

Questions and suggestions always appreciated.



Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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